One day, spotty teenage Tom got a message from a stranger regarding his profile picture. This turned out to be rather a large turning point in his life as he quickly became friends with Alice. These days, Alice has moved away from her life near Liverpool to become an English Expat living in Spain.
Alice runs a fantastic blog called “Fall For Spain” which expands on her life as a British girl living abroad and reaches out to visitors to the city she now calls home, offering reviews and advice and a glimpse into Spanish Culture for the culturally oblivious such as myself and also a fresh perspective to locals who are interested in finding something new in their own back garden. I recently caught up with her and asked her if I could ask her a few questions. This is the result.
– Tom @ indieroad
Hablo con mi amiga Alice. Hola Alice, ¿come estas?
Bien y tu?
Estoy cansando pero bien, gracias ¿Puedes hablar español?
¿Donde esta un baño?
El baño esta en tu casa
¿Cerveza o vino?
los dos por favor
¿Puedo hablar en ingles ahora? Mi español ist nicht so gut.
Danke schön. How long have you been living in Spain now?
I’ve been living in Spain for 2 and a half years now (plus my 7 months erasmus) which is another reason why I should be fluent in Spanish already but I am not…
What made you want to leave England?
I had the opportunity to live and study in Madrid for a semester in 2013 and jumped at the chance. Then after I finished studying I knew I wanted to travel but also try to continue working in something related to my studies, This was possible with the erasmus graduate grant which is hard to find out about but very useful. I also quite enjoy being in the sun and actually being able to go outdoors whenever I fancy.
And what was the draw towards Spain?
The sun mostly, also the sea apart from Madrid being pretty far away from that. Now I’m in Mallorca which has over 200 beaches so that’s nice. But for me my favourite thing about Spain is actually their culture. I feel like we have a lot to learn from them. Spanish people are the kindest, most open and happy people I know (minus a few) and I think its great.
Do you still have a hint of Scouse in your accent?
Yes I think I do a little. Well at least the northern accent. I cannot change from saying the letter U very profoundly. For example bUs, clUb, fUn.. Spanish people struggle to understand my English and even native English speakers have a hard time. I’ve got used to the fact that no one can understand me now. But yes I do have some accent still and i don’t think I’ll ever loose it.
Which cities have you lived in?
Madrid, Valencia, Cuenca and Palma de Mallorca. I love Madrid and Palma the most. I had some bad vibes from Valencia but I think it is because I hated my job. Cuenca is just a small town in beautiful countryside but fucking boring in the winter when you cannot swim in the river.
Where are your favourite places?
I love Madrid and Palma. But from places I have visited I also love Seville, it stood out for me and their food and architecture is incredible. The north of Spain is also really lovely with good weather in summer but not as hot and sticky as Mallorca can get. The people are very friendly up there too. Id like to live in Asturias or Pais Basco sometime.
What have you been doing to earn money?
For the last year and a half I’ve been working in an online marketplace, ezebee.com. I am basically in charge of their English marketing, I really like working there and we are a small team making it more interesting, with more ways to get involved.
Not being a native Spanish speaker, have you encountered problems finding employment?
Yes I mean it’s obviously not as easy as a native Spanish speaker but I am very lucky to be native English. There are a lot of jobs which need fluent or native English speakers, mostly in big cities like Madrid or Barcelona but also in other parts of Spain. And if you want to teach English you will have no problem finding work. You can read my article about finding an expat job in Spain: https://fallforspain.com/2015/11/25/finding-a-native-english-expat-job-in-spain/
Have you learnt any fantastic Spanish swear words?
Its interesting that they have so many and you never know if they mean something positive or negative. For example ‘hija puta’ meaning daughter of a bitch, it could be be insulting or mean something funny that you can say to friends. Same with Puta Madre. If its ‘De puta madre’, its very good, if its ‘tu puta madre’ that means you’re pretty pissed off at that person. I guess we have the same principles in English too.
What does Spanish culture mean to you?
Spanish culture as I said before means kindness, openness and happiness. But it also means passion, anger, laid back life and more. I like the way that I don’t have to plan very much here, but I think that’s also due to living in a small city. Spanish culture is about food, especially sharing it together and its about family. Family is very important here and so are big family lunches with plenty of wine ?
What are the key differences to English culture?
English people can be more to the point (apart from our awkwardness) but I think that we can say something and then do it, we mean it. English are much more punctual and I think we make more plans. We also get shit done much faster which I do miss about the UK. I think in the UK the biggest difference is that we eat when you are hungry. In Spain you eat at the agreed times and you wait for everyone else. Very polite.
Have you encountered any problems with this?
I wouldn’t say I’ve encountered any problems but I have felt a bit annoyed… even after living in Spain so long I cannot stop from being a few mins early to an appointment, and then I’m always left there waiting…
What elements of English culture, if any, are you proud to wear on your sleeve to accentuate your expatriate status?
I am proud of our great sarcastic sense of humour. That’s the one thing I miss about England, even if we have nothing in common with another person at least you can have a laugh together.
What’s the best and worst Spanish meal you’ve eaten?
The best could be pulpo a la gallega,(typical octopus dish from galicia) or maybe sobrassada (a smooth pork meat similar to chorizo, typical in Mallorca). The worst I think maybe what I like the least is Embutidos. Big meaty dishes. I don’t particularly hate anything apart from blue cheese and nuts because I am allergic and they can kill me. Death by nuts.
What’s the most absurd thing you have put in your mouth?
A Snail maybe, but I like them.
What tips would you give to people who wish to pack up their bags and expatriate themselves?
That it’s much easier than you think. The world is big and scary but its still planet earth, so go and get out there, what the worst that could happen? The world is so fucking big, why would you stay in one village?
What problems did you encounter?
Moving abroad? Hmm I know it sounds simple but, making friends. Because either I have moved away or they move and its hard to find some real close friends, it takes time to do that. Most of my best friends are back in the UK or another part of the world and we keep in touch, but its also hard to have a most of my good friendships so far away.
How did you overcome these?
I Skype my friends, I visit them, they visit me, and of course I have friends here too, but making good friends, like very close friends, takes time. So I guess you just have to keep at it.
What have been the hardest and best moments?
The hardest moment maybe could be moving to Valencia and realising that maybe it was a wrong decision, I left a good job in Madrid with a good flat and friends, for a shitty job in Valencia without friends and with a disgusting flat. I cried all night on the first night but after a while I got used to it, and then I moved on. Which is what you should do if you don’t like something. Now I’ve ended up in Mallorca and I couldn’t be happier.
Tell me about your travel blog. What is your focus for this?
Basically when I got the job in Mallorca, I wanted to know what it was like to live on the island before moving here. I didn’t know anything about Mallorca other than my 18 year old mates going to magaluf to get F*cked up. I looked for something personal, some blogs online and couldn’t find anything very interesting. My aim is to help people like me, people who want to move abroad, especially to Spain. I want to let people know how to find a flat, a job, make friends and what its really like to live here.
What audiences are you reaching?
Although my blog is mainly for expats, a lot of locals read it too. I write about things like for example the best bars in the city. So it’s interesting for everyone. But Mostly I’d say US, UK or anyone else English speaking in the world, who loves Spain!
What do you hope to achieve?
It could be nice to eventually make some money from my blog. But that’s not why I’m doing it. I think I will always do it on the side to express how I feel living here and just to help others. I’ve had a few free meals and drinks from my blog and that’s enough for me ?
Thanks for your time Alice. Tiempo para una cerveza.
You can check out Alice’s awesome blog by clicking on the link below where you will find a plethora of interesting articles to lose yourself in. You can also follow Fall For Spain on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.